Housekeeping Observations at Acadia National Park in Maine
There were small, rocky granite mountains; pine trees for as far as the eye could see; pebbled coasts and scattered sandy beaches; and even some creature comforts like a tea house on a beautiful lake that serves well-known popover treats with tea.
Off the bat, one thing I noticed that was different from other national parks I had been to was the fact that many of the attractions of the park are scattered and not in one place, which meant that you could go into much of the official national park without paying the $20 to get in. The only part that they were a stickler about paying was the entrance to Sand Beach and Thunder Hole.
I'm not sure why they set it up this way but I'm sure it results in losing a lot of revenue. Instead of having multiple entrance fee gates around the park, they have people pay the fee at the Visitor Center (the official start of the Loop Road) and a couple of other spots. We almost stood in line at the Visitor Center, not knowing what the line was for. Luckily, we had already paid the fee since anyone camping in the park has to pay the $20 for the week. I also saw at least two families ask rangers about where they could pay the entrance fee.
True enough, the portions of the park are not all in one place so that makes it hard to have these gates at the park boundaries. Our campsite at Seawall, for example, is about 25 minutes from the rest of the attractions and near that end was Echo Lake and several picnic areas that were all part of the park but there was no nearby area to pay the fee.
Another observation was that the park seemed more commercial than I had noticed at other parks. The Visitor Center, for example, had very little in informational exhibits but had a good variety of books to purchase. The Acadia Weekly publication also encouraged visitors to buy items, both inside and outside the park.
This was my first visit so I can't compare with how it might have been set up in the past, but I do wonder if/how they were affected financially by the government shutdown and resulting budgeting.
According to Wikipedia, some 2 million people visit the park annually. That's a number any park should be proud of. Yellowstone also sees at least 2 million tourists annually.
The $20, no matter how you look at it, is an amazing deal. I truly appreciate the opportunity we have to see these natural sights. I just hope the park is designed in a way that the park still gets enough incoming revenue to maintain its personnel and resources.